St Helen’s Book Club has been running since the start of the pandemic and in that time we have read one book each month – we haven’t missed one month yet! So, with a view to getting more of you to join us, we thought one of our regulars – John Davies – could summarise the books we have read this year. It’s quite a varied selection which reflects the sort of books we have read over the past 3 years. We look forward to seeing you on our next Book Club night.
During the first half of 2023 we read….
During the first half of the year the Book Club members read a wide variety of books old and new and this enterprising list sparked lively and interesting discussions at the monthly meetings.
In January we met to discuss a contemporary thriller/mystery, The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley in which a feisty female protagonist visits an apartment block in Paris, where nothing and no one is as they seem, in search of a missing brother.
February saw us turn to two Modern Classics, Evelyn Waugh’s comic novel from 1928, Decline and Fall, and Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). We decided both stood up well to reading in 2023, and made personal resolutions to read more of these Catholic authors. (Trivia question: ‘What is the connexion between Evelyn Waugh and our parish?’)
In March we discussed The Book Thief by the Australian author, Markus Zusak, who made the fascinating choice of Death as the narrator. Perhaps this wasn’t such a surprising move as the novel’s setting is the dark days of World War Two and the Holocaust. The inspiring adventures of the heroine, Liesl, against this sobering backdrop made this, to my mind, the read of our year so far and it certainly prompted the lengthiest and most rewarding discussion.
Susan Crandall’s Whistling Past the Graveyard was another inspiring book centring on the well-known theme of a coming of age novel set against an American road trip and enlivened our April meeting.
We returned to recent work in May with William Boyd’s latest novel, The Romantic, which saw the hero living out his long life in the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries against the backdrop of some of the period’s great events including peripheral involvement in the battle of Waterloo. The hero stayed true to the romantic spirit as he journeyed the globe and sought a lost love.
Finally, at our June meeting we reverted to the classics and discussed Silas Marner, the wronged weaver of George Eliot’s 1861, who seeks redemption in hoarding gold, but finds it, after his gold has been stolen, in taking in and bringing up a lost child.
Such a wide range of reads from different periods and genres made it an interesting start to our reading journey of 2023 with much more to come.
(Answer to the trivia question – Evelyn Waugh wrote a historical novel about the life of St Helen in 1950 which was called Helena.)